“But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:26, NIV).
From the time we are born, we get measured against everyone else. “Your daughter, at two weeks old, is in the 89th percentile for weight. She’s doing great!” “Your son is in the 17th percentile. You’ll want to make sure he’s getting enough calories…”
And so it goes. After that, we never escape it. How to we measure up? How do we compare to our peers? Are we at the top of our class? The middle? The bottom? Unfortunately, very quickly, these ratings begin to work as measuring sticks for our value.
Culture exalts being counted amongst the top percentiles as “greatness.” Most of us buy into this thinking. Most of us have come to equate the word “exceptional” with the word “great.” Oh, the glory of being in the ninety-ninth percentile! That one with exceptional intelligence, exceptional athletic prowess, exceptionally glamorous looks… the one exceptionally quick to develop as a wealthy businessman, exceptionally talented, exceptionally charismatic… anything exceptional, these are the great people of our society.
Everyone else is… meh. As a result, tragically, most people walk around daily life feeling… meh.
My dear one, you have got to know, this is exceedingly far from Jesus’ perspective. And you know what? Jesus’ perspective defines reality. Everything else is a false perception of life.
Jesus fashioned everyone in His own image. Do you really think He would have meant for ninety-something percent of the population to feel constantly miserable for not attaining “greatness?” No. This is the opposite of what He intends. The marvelous news is, He makes greatness accessible to each of us, in any and every station of life.
He summed it up with these two simple statements:
- “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4, NIV). Assuming a posture of unsophisticated, childlike trust in Daddy. Leaning on Him in vulnerable, unending, utter dependence. This is greatness.
- “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matt. 23:11, NIV). Preferring those around you above yourself. Dying to your preferences that they might live. Pouring yourself out to serve them, exactly where it is least convenient and most uncomfortable. Taking the lower place to lift them up. This is greatness.
You know what else? The word “exceptional” actually does fit in here. Exceptional dependency. Exceptional self-forgetfulness. Exceptional kind, gentle service. Exceptional sacrificial love. In Jesus’ mind and heart, these qualities are the true measuring sticks of an earth-shatteringly successful earthly trajectory.
He means for most of us to be great within the context of a tiny microcosm. In our own miniscule corners of the universe – as we surrender ourselves to Him day after day, cheerfully doing the dishes, selflessly loving our neighbors, and willingly laying our lives down – momentous greatness is happening. The angels hold their breath. The Father’s heart swells. And all of heaven bends down to watch.
Is Jesus’ brand of greatness harder, or easier to achieve, than the world’s?
9 thoughts on “The Real Measuring Stick for Greatness”
This really is the greatness God wants to see in individuals and in the church family.
LikeLiked by 1 person
YES it is! And how this pleases His heart! I so appreciate you sharing your thoughts, Rob, thank you!
Jennifer, if we are attracted to or involed in the world system of evaluation, it is impossible to accept God’s perspective. Once we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, our view of standards becomes our only reality. Then being Christ-like and child-like is as simple as breathing and serving others. len w
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes and amen. Surrendering to Him means surrendering to and embracing an entirely new posture and worldview. Thank you for your thoughts, Len!
Jennifer, so many that I know or have known, claim christianity as their “belief”, but their lifes reflect otherwise. I try to add them to my prayer list or to approach them, if the Spirit leads. Going to church, reading a bible and praying are good-BUT- empty and void of re-birth, if not in relationship with Jesus. My heart aches, especially for family and friends that will stand before our Lord with no love for Christ. 😦 len w
I can identify with that for sure! Definitely still praying for multiple family members of my own that need to know Him. One crucially important thing He has taught me along the way is that He doesn’t want me trying to carry the weight of it, though. He wants to carry that weight for us! So prayer is a continual exercise of turning unnecessary weight over to Him, and letting Him do all the praying through me, as He chooses per day and per minute 🙂
You are so right, Jennifer- Jesus said take my yoke for it is not “heavy”. len
Jennifer. Thank you very much for this well expressed and graphic and truthful post.
God is calling for just such a church as you have outlined here. Returning to the cross in repentance, Picking up our own cross daily and following Him. But the truth in your posting is reflecting the heart of God. Greatness, true greatness is found only in HIM. Its never found in position, works, or how ‘valuable’ folk are in the opinions of others. What matters is how He views the condition of our hearts as we ‘surrender’ to Him all we are and all we ever could be. Reading your article confirms to me yet again that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword and cuts through the ‘stuff’ when Christ is proclaimed through His Word. Thank you, thank you for inspiration. Keep praying. Please keep writing.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much, my sister, for your encouraging words! I am truly blessed by them, and so grateful to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to share His love and truth through this medium. He is so good! 😀